Karen Churchill, president of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
Among those at the Rodd Grand Hotel Tuesday, Aug. 13, to hear the province’s update on the Yarmouth ferry situation was Karen Churchill, president of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce, who says it’s great that Yarmouth’s ferry connection with Maine apparently will be reestablished and who says the community has a role to play in helping the proposed new service be successful.
Having been in the room to hear Graham Steele, Nova Scotia’s minister of economic and rural development and tourism, announce that the province was going to enter into negotiations with STM Quest regarding a ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Churchill said it was good to get some positive news on the ferry issue.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I think this is what Yarmouth needed.
The minister said he hoped to have an operating agreement for the new ferry service within three weeks.
Churchill said the chamber is looking forward to the announcement that an agreement is in place.
“Then we need to make this work,” she said.
She acknowledges that getting a ferry – as important as this is – will not, in itself, solve all of the area’s problems and bring the economy back up to where we would like it to be.
- Read more special articles:
- Ferry contract update coming Thursday
- STM/Quest top ferry bid
- Updated -- Minister encouraged by Maine talks
- Stakeholders optimistic after ferry update
“The ferry’s not going to fix all of our issues, absolutely not,” she said. “However, no matter what has occurred in Yarmouth, we have always come together as a community and when we host events, we have great hospitality and we work together well as a community. Going forward, we’re going to have to continue to do that. We’re going to have to look at hours of operation. We’re going to have to look at what we can do to get some business into Yarmouth.”
For Yarmouth’s chamber of commerce, transportation-related issues always have been big – whether it has been ferry service, the airport, highways or the train (while we still had rails, that is) – but as far as economic impact is concerned, the ferry situation of recent years tops the list.
Churchill says she felt better about the chances of getting another ferry after the establishment, in 2011, of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, the group that successfully made the case for reestablishing Yarmouth’s ferry link with the United States.
“I think they did a phenomenal job and stayed on top of it,” she said.
Referring to Tuesday's announcement, she said, “It was great to see everybody with a smile on their face … It was a good atmosphere.”